Monday, February 25, 2008

Videogames in Libraries

Do video games belong in public libraries?

I think the answer to this question is an emphatic MAYBE.

Some points in favor of video games as part of the core library mission are that video games have become cultural and artistic creations, and at least some of them serve educational purposes. I'd have a little bit of trouble defending this statement that video games are artistic creations simply because they haven't made that leap in the general public consciousness. They are far more likely to be considered as toys rather than art. I would imagine that movies started out in a similar way in that at first it was simply amusing that we could get a few crude moving images on the screen. Only later did film become an accepted art form to the point where the Oscars are now at least as prestigious as other major artistic awards. I admit to skimping on the film research to see if that is totally accurate, but it seems to have a core nugget of truth. In any case, current video games are reaching a level of artistic presentation that is quickly approaching the art of film making. If films are suitable for library collections, then why not video games?

The main problem with video games is that the primary mission of libraries is to educate and inform the populace. Modern libraries are beginning to stray from that mission somewhat, but the reason that our tax dollars go to libraries is that libraries can educate us and give us information to improve ourselves and become well rounded citizens. So maybe the real question here is should libraries stock romance novels, popular movies and the latest Britney Spears album. I'm leaning towards no and in that case we probably have to kick out almost all of the video games too. I enjoy having a library as a provider of all the media that I don't feel like purchasing, but the library's purpose is not really to be my personal Is most of the collection of modern libraries designed to promote education and information? My guess is that the overwhelming answer is no. So perhaps as long as we are just using libraries as storehouses of all possible media then video games do belong there too. Just try not to examine that argument too closely.

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